New SOCAL-BRS Publication on Baird’s Beaked Whale Behavior

Baird's Beaked whale


We are pleased to announce a recent publication from the SOCAL-BRS project on the basic behavior and responses to simulated military sonar in a Barid’s beaked whale. These data were particularly significant in being the first high-resolution movement and acoustic measurements for any individual of this species. The photo above (Taken under NMFS permit #14534-2; credit A. Douglas) shows the subject described in the feature being tagged.  The reference for this paper and abstract are given below. A .pdf copy is available on request from: <> or <>.


Stimpert, A. K., Stacy Lynn DeRuiter, B. L. Southall, D. J. Moretti, E. A. Falcone, J. A. Goldbogen, Ari Friedlaender, G. S. Schorr, and John Calambokidis. “Acoustic and foraging behavior of a Baird’s beaked whale, Berardius bairdii, exposed to simulated sonar.” Scientific reports 4 (2014).

Beaked whales are hypothesized to be particularly sensitive to anthropogenic noise, based on previous

strandings and limited experimental and observational data. However, few species have been studied in

detail. We describe the underwater behavior of a Baird’s beaked whale (Berardius bairdii) from the first

deployment of a multi-sensor acoustic tag on this species. The animal exhibited shallow (23 +/- 15 m max

depth), intermediate (324 +/- 49 m), and deep (1138 +/- 243 m) dives. Echolocation clicks were produced with

a mean inter-click interval of approximately 300 ms and peak frequency of 25 kHz. Two deep dives included

presumed foraging behavior, with echolocation pulsed sounds (presumed prey capture attempts) associated

with increased maneuvering, and sustained inverted swimming during the bottom phase of the dive. A

controlled exposure to simulated mid-frequency active sonar (3.5–4 kHz) was conducted 4 hours after tag

deployment, and within 3 minutes of exposure onset, the tagged whale increased swim speed and body

movement, and continued to show unusual dive behavior for each of its next three dives, one of each type.

These are the first data on the acoustic foraging behavior in this largest beaked whale species, and the first

experimental demonstration of a response to simulated sonar.


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SOCAL-BRS is a study of basic behavior and responses to controlled sound exposures in a variety of marine mammal species.

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